At a time when Indian government is zealously enforcing the cyber law of India, it is really surprising that Tata Teleservices Limited (TTL) and Airtel are violating Indian cyber law. There may be a case that both TTL and Airtel may not be aware of the contraventions and violations they have been committing. It is equally possible that both TTL and Airtel have been deliberately and knowingly violating the provisions of Information Technology Act, 2000.
According to various sources, Tata Teleservices Limited (TTL) and Airtel are violating IT Act 2000 and complaints have been filed against them at Department of Telecommunication (DoT) and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). Both Tata Teleservices Limited (TTL) and Airtel have failed to observe cyber law due diligence as required by the Information Technology Act, 2000 and the Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011 (PDF).
We have been working in the direction of getting more information, facts and the communications that would establish how and when TTL and Airtel violated various provisions of the IT Act, 2000. However from the publicly available material it is clear that both Airtel and TTL can be booked for Internet intermediary liability in India.
Airtel and TTL are intermediaries within the meaning of IT Act, 2000 and they are required to follow cyber law due diligence in India. They are also required to comply with Internet intermediary guidelines. If Airtel and TTL fail to comply with these laws and regulations they can be heftily fines and even civil and criminal prosecutions may occur.
The Internet intermediary rules prescribe that the intermediary, on whose computer system the information is stored or hosted or published, upon obtaining knowledge by itself or been brought to actual knowledge by an affected person in writing or through email signed with electronic signature about any such information as mentioned in sub-rule (2) above, shall act within thirty six (36) hours and where applicable, work with user or owner of such information to disable such information that is in contravention of sub-rule (2). Further the intermediary shall preserve such information and associated records for at least ninety days for investigation purposes.
The Internet intermediary rules also prescribe that the intermediary shall publish on its website the name of the grievance officer and his contact details as well as mechanism by which users or any victim who suffers as a result of access or usage of computer resource by any person in violation of rule 3 can notify their complaints against such access or usage of computer resource of the intermediary or other matters pertaining to the computer resources made available by it. The grievance officer shall redress the complaints within one month from the date of receipt of complaint.
However, it is common practice among companies like Airtel and TTL to flout Internet intermediary guidelines and even Dot and TRAI are well aware of these violations. What is still to be seen is the nature of action that Dot and TRAI would take against guilty companies like Airtel and TTL for the existing complaints filed against these companies. A stringent penalty against those guilty of violating the laws of India, especially the cyber law of India, must be imposed by DoT so that companies like Airtel and TTL do not take these laws casually.